This jar is a teaching mural of Hopi pottery making.
I asked Rachael Sahmie to make an unfired pot for me that 1) showed its rough, unsanded surface, 2) showed the surface after sanding, 3) had a section that was stone-polished but not painted, and 4) had a polished and painted design showing the colors of the raw paints before firing (when they change). This pot is the result of my request. The pot is not signed.
The walls are substantial and even but not thick, as one would expect from such an accomplished artist. (See the Artist List for the large number of Rachael pots in this collection.)
The design reflects the Hopi concept of Siitalpuva, “through a land brightened with flowers,” Hopi land after a rain. The design was made famous by Grace Chapella and a full explanation of this concept is offered in the catalog entry for her pots of this design in the collection.
With this unfired pot I particularly wanted to show paint colors before firing. The yellow clay slip on the butterfly wing would turn red once fired. The irregular black area with three peaks and a wave would likely become a darker, richer black as the organic beeweed fixer burned off and the residual ground hematite in the paint interacted with the fire and air. The speckled brown areas are colored with watered-down black paint and would also fired darker.
Rachael firing pottery
My intent is to have a pot in the collection that illustrates the stages of pot formation and design and this pot serves that goal admirably.